Shonen Jump April 2011

Shonen Jump finally hits its 100th issue and its a party! The issue starts with a look back at all the titles that started and either ended or were “graduated” from the magazine, numbering 12 in all. Yu-Gi-Oh! gets the spotlight in the TCG section, and goes back to the original Yu-Gi-Oh! game. I have to keep my youngest away from this card too. Then there’s the usual features about anime and SJ titles on the iPad.

The manga starts right off with Psyren, finishing Ageha’s battle with the creature. Ageha, Sakurako and Hiryu along with another member of the party who hid while Ageha and Hiryu fought the creature, return home. Sakurako collapses from her injuries after calling her “sensei” who takes her away, leaving Ageha and Hiryu with lots of questions but few answers. Later, Sakurako “calls” Ageha in a way he didn’t expect and she goes to take him to meet her sensei and learn more about Psyren. A lot of interesting clues about Psyren are dropped in these chapters. Where Psyren is, and what the survivors become after returning are explained but not in any detail. Nemesis Q’s role in this is also explained a little more, which puts his real motives into question. Though I have a feeling about what’s gonna happen to the coward that escaped with our heroes…

Naruto is up next as he continues to try to subdue Nine Tails with his mother’s, Kushina, help. Kushina also starts to tell Naruto about what happened 16 years ago when Nine Tails escaped and attacked the village. It’s more flashbacks to let us see Naruto’s parents in action and more about Naruto’s past. I don’t mind this continued break from the action of the main story. And I’m starting to wonder about the identity of “Madara.” Is he really who he says he is? He seems to know a lot about things he probably shouldln’t know. It’ll be interesting to see if my guesses are right.

Bleach continues another long, dragged out fight between Kenpachi and Nnoitora. Nnoitora is actually giving Kenpachi trouble. He starts sprouting arms, and Kenpachi, despite his initial joy at a real fight, actually starts to get worried, and decides to use Kendo and fight with BOTH hands on his sword. Yeah, this fight has been the least impressive of all the battles so far, and has gone on way too long. Nnoitora is a worthless character and really doesn’t deserve all this attention he’s getting, and it certainly shouldn’t be so difficult for Kenpachi, supposedly one of the more powerful of the Captains.

One Piece picks up two weeks after the Paramount War. Luffy, Jimbei, and Trafalgar Law’s band of pirates are on the Amazon Lily, where Luffy can safely recover from his wounds. But the grief from losing his brother is too much for him and he starts to rampage, trying to deny the truth. The story then transitions to the past, where we see Luffy soon after Shanks and his pirates have left Windmill Village. Luffy is being dragged by Garp to a house in the mountains, the home of the Dadan bandit family. Ace is already staying there. Luffy tries to make friends with Ace, but Ace just ignores him, and head off into the forest. Luffy follows, and keeps trying for months before he finally finds Ace and his friend Sabo in Gray Terminal. Luffy proves to Ace that he can not only trust him, that he needs him, and so starts their friendship as well as competition about who’s going to be stronger. These are some great chapters. Luffy’s grief is so real. And it transitions nicely to the past, where the foundations for both Luffy’s and Ace’s motivations and relationship are laid. I really liked how Luffy tries to stop crying when Ace says he hates cry-babies. it’s so cute to see Luffy trying to impress someone.

Yu-Gi-Oh!5D’S finishes Yusei’s and the Skeleton Knight’s battle. Yusei proves he’s no slouch at dueling and brings the Skeleton Knight’s Life Points down to the same level as his. He wins the duel not by knocking out the Skeleton Knight’s life points, but by bringing him to a halt. If your duel runner stops (or in SK’s situation, horse), you lose. After some cryptic words, SK vanishes along with this playing field. We then leave Yusei and Sect, and travel over to New Domino City where we see an obviously powerful man being told of the arrival of his son, Jack Atlas, King of turbo duels, as he instructs the go-ahead for the D1 Grand Prix. I still like this new Yu-Gi-Oh!, but I’ll have to see how things go when it gets into more of the duels. If the plot is developed more over the dueling, then this title has a lot of potential. I’m noticing the manga seems to have more substance than the anime in these Yu-Gi-Oh titles. I hope that continues.

This issue features a special one-shot manga that was created for the One Piece manga’s 10th anniversary. “Cross Epoch” is a crossover piece of Dragonball (Z) and One Piece. The story takes place in Dragonball‘s world with the One Piece characters paired up with their closest DB counterpart. Krillin and Chopper, Bulma and Nami, Sanji and The Turtle Sage, Piccolo and Zolo, and Goku and Luffy are all traveling together to reach a meeting place. Robin and Usopp appear to be part of Vegeta’s gang with Trunks, on a flying pirate ship, who don’t start out going to the meeting place, but Usopp manages to convince Vegeta. I loved some of these pairing, especially Zolo and Piccolo. I also really loved that Luffy could ride on Kinto’un. But the best part was who was waiting at the meeting place. I’d have a tea party with him anytime! This was a great short story, and the art melded so perfectly, you couldn’t tell there were two artists involved.

Online, in Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Rikuo and his friends have fallen into a trap set by Gyuki, the Ox yokai. His minions split up Rikuo and his friends and then attack them. Yura must protect the girls while in the hot spring, while Rikuo must protect the boys and Tsurara, while he is still in his human form. By the end of the battle, he is in his Night Form and goes to face Gyuki. Rikuo finally steps up in these chapters. He’s not whining about wanting to be human. He fights to protect his friends, and changes into his Night Form gradually, even acknowledging that is who he is. I really hope this lasts. It will make the story much more tolerable. I really liked the appearance of the Karasu Tengu. They are very formal, making them rather humorous, as they politely torture one of Gyuki’s henchmen. These chapters are a real improvement, and may turn me around on the series.

There was also an extended preview of Toriko, which has Toriko and Director Mansom fighting the GT Robot. These chapters had some sad moments that really could have done without reading, mostly with the Battle Wolf and her cub. Her final moments remind me a lot of White Beard’s in One Piece. What I did enjoy was the GT Robot’s core’s final moments. It was a fitting end. While things worked out in the end, Toriko is still not a series I’m gonna run out and pick up.

Overall, this was a good issue of Shonen Jump, worthy of being the 100th issue and hitting an important milestone of almost 10 years itself. The look backs at the manga that used to be in the magazine were nice, but the highlight is still “Cross Epoch”. The final two pages in color was the perfect end to a great issue. I just might stick around past July now.

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